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Mississippi Court Records

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Where To Find Family Court Records In Mississippi?

Family court records are typically maintained in the courthouse where the case was filed or heard. In Mississippi, Chancery Courts and Youth Courts oversee cases involving domestic relations. The Youth Court, a division of the County Court, has jurisdiction over juvenile delinquency issues and cases of juvenile neglect and abuse. The Chancery Court has exclusive authority over other family-related matters such as divorce, child custody and support, annulment paternity, alimony, guardianship and conservatorship, wills, trusts, and estates. In Mississippi counties where there are no County Courts, Chancery Courts hear juvenile cases and maintain juvenile records.

It is important to note that court clerks are the record custodians of the court; therefore, interested parties must contact the Clerk of Court in the county where the case was heard or filed to find or obtain family court records. Additionally, interested parties may be able to find family court records online through government and third-party websites.

What Is Family Law In Mississippi?

Title 93 of the Mississippi code contains the state’s family law. The section addresses matters relating to the family.

  • Chapters One and Three of the Mississippi family code cover marriage and marital laws that pertain to the validity or legality of a marriage, solemnization, marriage licenses, and marriage records. Both chapters also cover contracts and leases between a married couple.
  • Chapters Five and Seven cover divorce and alimony and annulment, respectively. Chapter Five details legally acceptable grounds for divorce, court hearing processes and divorce requirements, custody of children with divorced parents, and alimony. Chapter Seven covers the causes of annulment, void marriages, court processes, and custody.
  • Paternity is addressed in Chapter Nine. The chapter details the trials and medical processes for the determination of a child’s paternity. Chapter Nine also covers a father’s duties, recovery from a father or the father’s estate, and settlement.
  • Chapters 11 and 12 of the Mississippi family code details child support. Information about the duties of the parents, court requirements, and procedures are in these chapters.
  • Chapters 13 through 17 cover adoption, visitation rights, parental rights termination, and guardianship and conservatorship. These chapters detail the:
    • Procedures and requirements for the appointment of a guardian to minors, convicts, and persons of unsound minds
    • The duties of a conservator
    • Grandparents’ visitation rights
    • Termination of the parental rights of unfit parents
    • Adoption requirements, proceedings, and decrees
    • Re-adoption
    • Adoption records
  • Chapters 21 and 22 cover domestic abuse, detailing domestic violence hearings, protecting victims, restraining orders, and enforcing orders.
  • Chapters 25 to 29 of the code highlight the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, and the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act.

What Are Family Court Cases And Records In Mississippi?

The Mississippi family court hears cases of matters that relate to the family. Family court records are records of all cases heard in the family court. Examples of such cases are:

  • Child Custody: This refers to determining the legal or physical custodian of a child under 18 years old. The custodian is responsible for the child’s safety and upbringing and makes decisions on behalf of the child. Child custody comes into play when parents are divorced, separated, or the marriage is legally void.
  • Child support: the family court issues child support enforcement orders and hears cases of recovery.
  • Adoption: the court hears cases of adoption. The court also maintains adoption records.
  • Divorce: the family court hears cases of marriage dissolutions. The court also determines or approves the rights and responsibilities of divorced parties.
  • Alimony: spousal support in the event of a divorce can be determined or approved by the family court
  • Paternity: the determination of a child’s parentage or paternity also falls within the family court’s jurisdiction
  • Other family court cases, including the legitimization of children, change of name, removal of disability from a minority, and termination of parental rights

Are Family Court Cases Public Records In Mississippi?

Most family court records in Mississippi are public, according to the Mississippi Public Records Act. However, the court considers certain judiciary records as exempt from the public records act. Also, records of cases heard in the Youth Court are sealed and inaccessible to the public. Adoption and divorce records are also only available to authorized persons.

Other family records deemed confidential by law or sealed by state statutes are also not public. Subjects of family court records or parties named on the record may file a motion with the court to have the records sealed and made inaccessible. If the court determines that there is sufficient reason or is in the interest of justice and public good that the records be sealed, the motion may be granted.

How Do I Find Family Court Records In Mississippi?

Mississippi Family Court records are maintained in the courthouse where the case was heard or filed, and as such, interested parties may request Family Court records from the Clerk of the Chancery Court or Youth Court where the case was heard or filed. Since the Youth Court is a division of the County Court, interested parties may find Youth Court records by contacting the County Court Clerk. Requesting parties may be required to fill request forms or submit written requests for court records. Parties can make requests for documents in-person at the local courthouse or by mail. Courthouse addresses, mailing addresses, and contact phone numbers are provided on each county or court’s website. For example, parties interested in obtaining Chancery Court records in Jackson County may visit the courthouse at:

3104 Magnolia Street
Pascagoula, MS 39567–4127

Records requests can also be submitted by mail to:

P. O. Box 998
Pascagoula, MS 39567

Parties interested in obtaining Family Court records in DeSoto County may request the documents in person at the courthouse:

DeSoto County Courthouse
2535 Hwy 51 South
Room 100
Hernando, MS 38632

Records requests may also be submitted by mail to:

DeSoto County Courthouse
P. O. Box 949
Hernando, MS 38

Depending on the records requested, the parties may also be required to submit valid identification or authorization. The court may also charge fees to make or certify copies of requested documents. Requesting parties will be notified of any applicable fees and available payment options before the record is produced.

How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?

The Mississippi Electronic Courts system provides electronic access to family court records. Users may view, download, or print public records from the system. New users of the system must first complete online registration. Users will also be required to pay an annual fee of $10. Registrants can make the payment online with debit or credit cards. Alternatively, registrants may choose to mail a physical check. Sch persons must note that access to the MEC will only be granted after the court receives and processes the payment. Online payments give access to the system on the same day the party makes the payment. Some local courthouses, such as the DeSoto Chancery Court, have public MEC terminals. Persons who do not have access to MEC may use the terminals to access public records.

What Is Mississippi Custody Law?

The Mississippi custody law covers the court’s processes in determining child custody with the child’s best interests as the primary consideration. In determining the child’s best interests, Mississippi family courts presume that both parents have equal rights to t child’s custody. However, in cases where there is a history of abuse or violence, the court will grant custody to the nonviolent parent, except it can be proven that it is in the child’s best interests to award custody to the parent accused of violence. Suppose both parents have a history or pattern of violence. In that case, the court may grant custody of the child to the parent who is least likely to continue the abusive or violent behavior. The court may also grant custody to a third-party and order both abusive parents to undergo a treatment program.

Other factors considered in determining child custody include:

  • The child’s age and health
  • The parents’ moral fitness
  • The parents’ physical and mental health
  • The capacity and willingness of the parents to provide primary care to the child
  • If the child is aged 12 and above, the child’s preference
  • The primary caregiver before divorce or separation
  • The parents’ parenting skills
  • The child’s relationship with the parents
  • Each parent’s work or employment responsibilities
  • Stability in each parent’s home environment
  • The financial ability of both parents to provide for the child
  • The child’s relationship with siblings and other family members

The types of custody are legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the right to decide on the child’s behalf on matters relating to education, health, and general welfare. Physical custody refers to residence or supervision. The court may grant:

  • Joint physical and legal custody: In joint custody, both parents have equal rights and authority to make decisions that concern the child’s welfare, health, education, and general upbringing. Joint physical custody also means that both parents will have a significant amount of time with the child. If both parents agree to joint custody, the court will assume that it is in the child’s best interest for both parents to have equal access and decision making rights. Both parents are required to consult each other in making decisions that concern the child.
  • Joint physical custody and sole legal custody: in this situation, the child will spend sufficient amounts of time with each parent; however, only one parent, the legal custodian, can decide on the child’s behalf.
  • Joint legal custody and sole physical custody: in this custodial arrangement, both parents have the legal authority to make decisions about the child’s welfare and upbringing. However, the child will primarily reside with one parent, which is the physical custodian.
  • Sole physical and legal custody: the court may grant sole legal and physical custody to one parent, meaning that the child will reside or be supervised by the custodial parent. The custodial parent is also responsible for making decisions on the child’s behalf.

The parents may be required to submit a custody implementation plan. In cases where one parent is the sole physical and legal custodian, or where one parent is the only physical custodian, the non-custodial parent may be required to pay child support to the custodial parent. It is rare for the court to change custody plans as the change may constitute a disruption to the child. However, if there are material changes in the custodial parent(s)' circumstances that affect the child, the court may review or change custody plans.

How To Find Family Court Lawyers In Mississippi?

Mississippi courts offer free legal clinics to provide free legal clinics to low-income families. The clinics are designed by the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission to provide legal assistance in family law matters. The commission is an initiative of the Mississippi Supreme Court, and it has partners who offer free legal services. Interested parties may contact the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission for eligibility information. The state’s Bar Association also provides family law resources and access to family lawyers through its directory.

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